1. Park National des Calanques
Located just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of this port side city are the Marseille Calanques. Vieux-port (French for the old port of Marseille), has frequent ferry services to the Calanques and back.
Immediately after checking in, I rushed to catch the last ferry for the day. Alas, there were no ferries on Mondays. But where there is a will, there is always a way. The lady behind the information desk at a nearby tourist office muttered something in french. She circled a certain metro station and a bus stop and handed me some pamphlets that piled on her desk. Without giving much thought to the return trip, I left to catch bus number 21 from the bus stop which was a few stops away from the nearest metro station. It was the bus ride that enlightened me about the potential risks that this trip could involve.
Unless you understand basic french, it can be really difficult to get around France. I queried almost every fellow passenger about the bus stop, but to no avail. Finally, when somebody did reply in English, a few others who knew a little also spoke up. A lady pointed questioningly to my ballerina flats and asked me if I was really even prepared to hike to the Calanques. Another man claimed that late evenings might not be the best time for a girl to return from there. Finally, from all the additional information, I deduced that I needed to be careful. The locals were really kind. They even apologized for their broken english and tried really hard to convey their concern about my safety.
It was still 5pm when I got off at the stop where I saw the Calanques, in the distance. The reason why I had stuck onto this idea of trekking all the way up to the park, despite all that advice, wasn't clear until the next hour. I was destined to land among the incredible steep-walled inlets of limestone or the Calanques that surrounded me from all sides. And just beyond an opening, the blue sea raged.
From my travels, I have definitely learnt to not ignore a native's opinion. So I decided to keep my stay short and return at the earliest. I was reminded of their warnings once again, when a biker exhibited some antics on the way back. But the tourist vehicles that were still driving to or from the Calanques made me feel secure on the slightly isolated streets.